Category : Country : China

Very rigorous work

Harvest of the Mao Feng in Anhui

Wherever it comes from, a premium tea involves rigorous work. This starts with the harvest, which must be done meticulously, and of course continues throughout each stage in the processing. Here, in Anhui (China), they are harvesting Huang Shan Mao Feng – “Downy Tips of the Yellow Mountains”. We can see the care being taken with the plucking as well as when transporting the leaves, which are shaded from the sun but still have air circulating through them. The baskets are small to prevent any compression of the precious shoots


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Pu Erh, a fascinating group of teas

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At this time of year, I particularly enjoy drinking Pu Erh after a meal. Firstly, it is said in China that this tea “dissolves fats” and helps prevent cholesterol. Secondly, I like its aroma of wet earth, rotting wood and damp straw; its smell of cowsheds, mushrooms and oak moss; its aroma of cellars, dry wood, liquorice, manes, wax and flint; its vegetal, fruity smell.

From one Pu Erh to another, the variety of olfactory notes is wide, another reason to try this fascinating group of teas, the only ones that undergo real fermentation. It is available loose-leaf or in a “cake”. It can be “raw” or “cooked”, depending on whether fermentation is done in the traditional manner or accelerated. It can also improve with age, like good wines.


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Hidden garden in China

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Often I find myself surrounded by mountains covered in tea bushes, and I love these spectacular, grandiose landscapes. But I also enjoy contemplating intimate gardens, discovering a few hidden rows of tea plants, so verdant yet out of sight. This secluded garden that stretches along the riverbank, sheltered by large trees and overlooked by rocky outcrops, is situated in the Wuyishan region. If you are in this part of China, you too may be able to spot these beautiful shrubs growing in the middle of the countryside.


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The incredible variety of teas in Fujian

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In China, Fujian is one of the most important tea-producing provinces. Important from a historical perspective, because the first shipments of teas bound for Europe left from its ports; important also in terms of the tea itself, because Fujian is the country’s only province that grows Oolongs and the legendary white teas, as well as green teas, black teas, smoked teas and the finest jasmine teas in the country. It’s an incredible variety.


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Gifts beneath a portrait in China

Mao portrait

When I’m invited into farmers’ homes in China, I sometimes find myself confronted by Chairman Mao. I don’t know if he’s worshipped or idolised, but in any case, the offerings and lights are there, beneath his portrait that presides over the main living room. A divine Mao.

 


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The author

François-Xavier Delmas is a passionate globetrotter. He’s been touring the world’s tea plantations for more than 20 years in search of the finest teas. As the founder of Le Palais des Thés, he believes that travelling is all about discovering world cultures. From Darjeeling to Shizuoka, from Taiwan to the Golden Triangle, he invites you to follow his trips as well as share his experiences and emotions.

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